For years the Wyoming High School Activities Association and the state of Wyoming struggled to determine what the best option was for smaller schools that wanted to play football.
In the 1930's-50's there were experiments with both eight-man and six-man football, but neither were permanent fixtures. Eight-man came and went after four seasons and six-man was abolished after eight.
The 1990's brought the implementation of nine-man football but even that only lasted for 5 years before it was scrapped.
Surely, some thought, from that point Wyoming would settle on various classifications of 11-man and put aside the small school gimmickry.
But in 2009 the WHSAA brought back six-man football and, entering its ninth season, Class 1A/6-Man is the largest football classification in the state.
It may not get the shine and attention that the largest classifications earn, but there's something special about the teams that require the grounds crew to tape off sections of Jonah Field at War Memorial Stadium to set the proper boundaries for the state championship game.
Here's a look at the teams that have made Class 1A/6-Man what it is now:
An often prominent figure in Class 1A, the Vikings turned a 2-6 season in 2008 into an undefeated 9-0 season to win the state championship in Class 1A/6-Man's first season. That year they tore through opponents, outscoring them 614-144, culiminating with defeating Kaycee 76-16 in the title game. Since then the Vikings won the championship again in 2014 and were a semifinalist last year.
Typically a cellar-dweller in Class 1A, missing the playoffs for the final three years leading into the implementation of the six-man division, the Miners made the semifinals in 2009 and have sporadically appeared in the state tournament ever since. They were also runners-up in 2010 but haven't made the championship game since.
The Red Devils didn't make the immediate jump to six-man, instead they waited until the division's third season to join and have only been treated to one exceptional season since. Hulett's best season in Class 1A/6-Man came in 2015 when their season was ended in the semifinals by Meeteetse. The Red Devils are still in search of the school's first football championship.
Chris LeDoux's hometown of 263 never had a football team until the six-man division returned and gave the Buckaroos a program. Their inaugural season ended as the state runner-up and the next two seasons fell short in the quarterfinals before missing the playoffs the following 3 years. That's when assistant coach Lee Kremers took over as head coach and the Buckaroos have won back-to-back titles with a combined 21-1 record.
Last year was the first year for the Doggers in six-man and they had a solid 5-3 season. They were ineligible for the postseason because of the red-tape of moving down, breaking the program's streak at eight seasons. The Doggers return this year with eligibility.
One of the original eight programs in Class 1A/6-Man, the Oilers made semifinal run after semifinal run, even making the state championship game in 2013 but have yet to win the elusive trophy for the first time since the nine-man division was still active (1991). In fact, the Oilers did not even qualify for the playoffs any year after that until the first season of the six-man division.
The Wolves stuck around the 11-Man scene for four years before opting to move down and they haven't had the best success on the field. Their greatest year, 2015, was a 4-4 season that put them into the playoffs. Of course, the circumstances of the program excuse their results.
For the first time in the town's history, the tiny school between Medicine Bow and Laramie got a program in 2014 as the Longhorns joined the six-man ranks. Rock River has failed to make the playoffs in its first three seasons, winning just two games total combined and they currently have a 16-game losing streak, but that can be excused with a brand new program.
Last season was the the first for the Huskies to drop down after 14 seasons of 11-man football. Unlike others, they were eligible for the playoffs because of enrollment numbers and the Huskies qualified but were defeated in the quarterfinals. Burlington actually won the last nine-man championship in Wyoming (1994).
The Rams gave six-man two years before joining and were an almost immediate force by playing in consecutive championship games and winning it all in 2012. Head coach David Trembly has led the Rams since 1998 in addition to his other coaching jobs (track and wrestling), but Dubois hasn't had a winning season since 2014.
Resurrection of six-man football also resurrected a Farson program which hadn't played since the nine-man division folded in 1991. The Pronghorns struggled in their first four seasons back on the field but gained their footing and eventually finished runners-up last season, the program's best finish. This year will be their ninth straight year with a program, the longest streak for the school since 1951.
Unlike the other teams, the Longhorns came into 2009 having played 6 years of six-man football in Montana. Despite their experience, Meeteetse didn't post a winning season until 2012 but did go on to win the state championship the following year. It was the program's first championship since winning in the nine-man division in 1993.
Another new addition to the division last year, the Rebels made the move down after playing in 11-man divisions every year since the program's inception in 1987. Riverside has one state title to its credit and that came from head coach Michael McGuire, who just won two state championships at Big Horn. The Rebels went 2-6 and were ineligible for the playoffs last season.
The Eagles didn't have a program at all from 1966-2012 when they finally got enough interest to join Class 1A/6-Man. Before that gap the Eagles were competitive but it has been a different story on the other side. St. Stephens won two games last year, two more than they had in their previous six-man years combined.
Much like St. Stephens, the Rattlers in Snake River clung to the smaller divisions and were without a team from 1959-2008 until the six-man came back and Snake River became one of the original eight. Head coach Mike Bates led the Rattlers every year including back-to-back championships in 2010-11. The Rattlers are tied with Kaycee and Guernsey-Sunrise as the team with the most six-man championships (two).
The Pioneers juggled between divisions, including the Montana six-man division, before Wyoming resurrected its smallest classification. Ten Sleep qualified for the playoffs in each of those first three seasons but have failed to return to the postseason since and are still in search of the program's first title.